Introduction to DRS

Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services logo.

Empowering Oklahomans with Disabilities

During this presentation, slides will appeared in front of the background pictures. The background images included:
  • A grassy plain and a sunny sky.
  • A herd of buffalo with one buffalo staring into the camera.
  • A wildflower meadow.
  • A stormy sky over a grassy plain.
  • A canola field with a sunrise in the horizon.

Do Something!

About DRS

The Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services is a state agency that expands employment opportunities and independence for Oklahomans with disabilities.

DRS logo

Success Story: Katie Wehmeyer


Young woman leaning on the wall of a DRS office.

“I feel in my heart I am meant for greater things. DRS has helped me get to where I am. I am optimistic about my future. The main thing that DRS has given me is my dignity back and my self-esteem with work. With mental illness, you have days or weeks that you struggle.”

— KATIE WEHMEYER

Oklahoma Commission for Rehabilitation Services


Commissioner
Jace Wolfe


Commissioner
Theresa M. Flannery


Commissioner
Wes Hilliard


Executive Director Melinda Fruendt

Portrait of Executive Director Melinda Fruendt.


In November 2018, Melinda Fruendt was named DRS executive director.

Organization Chart

DRS Organization chart

Oklahoma Commission for Rehabilitation Services. Below that Executive Director. Each division is listed Disability Determination Services, Oklahoma School for the Blind, Oklahoma School for the Deaf, Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Support Services and Vocational Rehabilitation.

How many?

A woman who is a double amputee walk her dog at the lake.

In Fiscal Year 2021, DRS served more than 82,530 Oklahomans.


“Without DRS, I would not have these prosthetics, not finished my degree or been able to afford the handheld devices for my vehicle. They gave me independence. I could not have done any of this without Vocational Rehabilitation. I am very grateful.”
— JENNIFER PELLAT-FINET

SSA Reimbursement

Three arrows form a circle in each arrow is labeled as DRS spends, Client works, SSA gives back.

When DRS clients who are former Social Security benefit recipients reach the nine month work anniversary, the Social Security Administration reimburses DRS a portion of the cost of the services to get that person into the work force.

These services build both people’s self-respect and strengthen the state’s available workforce.

Employer Services

Employer Services


  • Employers who work with DRS to recruit qualified employees save time and money.
  • When a company hires people with disabilities, it receives dependability, commitment and lower employee turnover.
  • 84% of Oklahomans served through DRS are still working two years after the program. The highest job retention of any workforce program.
  • Many employers are finding great resources when they hire people with disabilities.

The Business Services Program provides Employer Services.

  • Business engagement resulting in desired outcomes for employers and people with disabilities.
  • Access to a new talent pool of qualified candidates for employment.
  • Consultation about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 503 compliance, tax incentives accommodations, and accessibility.
  • Awareness and other training related to disabilities.
  • Creation and funding of work experiences including on-the-job training and internships.
  • Collaboration with a variety of organizations responsive to workforce needs of businesses

Ticket to Work

Transition: School-to-Work

Transition: School-to-Work

A teenage boy smiling while leaning on a table.
“I feel inspired coming to work. I really enjoy my job.”
— JACOB FEHR


Fehr took advantage of DRS’ Transition services while in high school and received work adjustment training.

Assistive Technology

VR and SBVI Assistive Technology Specialists complete a variety of assessments based on the counselor's referral and the client's need. All assessments are focused on how the accommodation or AT will assist the individual in overcoming obstacles that interfere with obtaining employment or keeping a job.

Assessments include the following areas:

  • home or vehicle modifications
  • personal mobility needs, such as wheelchairs
  • computer access
  • worksite access or modification needs
  • activities of daily living needs

VR and SBVI Clients Served

Vocational Rehabilitation

  • 19,229 Clients Served
  • 3,242 Program Applications
  • 2,068 Employment Plans Completed

Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired

  • 1,300 Clients Served
  • 307 Program Applications
  • 261 Employment Plans Completed

FY 2021

VR and SBVI Clients Employed

You are hired! CONGRATS! Yay! Welcome to the Team!

Vocational Rehabilitation

  • 843 Employment Outcomes
  • $25,007 Average Yearly Earnings
  • $12,613 Average cost of services
  • $ 3,751 Average Taxes Paid

Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired

  • 113 Employment Outcomes
  • $28,304 Average Yearly Earnings
  • $13,901 Average cost of services
  • $ 4,246 Average Taxes Paid

FY 2021

DRS helps with new hires for maximum success

Graphic of words OJT, OJE, O&E, RT, Job Coaching, and Asstistive Technology.

False!

Quote: “I don’t know if their wheelchair will be able to go everywhere in the office? I can’t hire a person who is in a wheelchair.”
Quote: “I don’t know anything about special software? I can’t hire a person who is blind.”
Quote: “They require dictation software? They want a dragon? I can’t hire a person who has mobility issues.”

True!

Through On the Job Training and On Job Evaluation and job coaching we help the employer and the client, gain the needed knowledge to succeed.

Vocational Rehabilitation

Vocational Rehabilitation

Who we serve.

A person may be eligible for VR services if he or she has a physical or mental disability that is a barrier to employment and requires services to prepare for, find, keep or return to work. There must be a chance the person can benefit by going to work.

Other VR programs

  • Vocational Rehabilitation for individuals who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
  • Vocational Rehabilitation for youth with disabilities who are incarcerated at COJAC and SWOJAC

Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired

A woman who uses a white cane is walking outside.“Being spoken to like you are not broken, changes someone’s world more than anyone will ever know.”

— SAMANTHA REEVES

Who we serve.

A person may be eligible for VS services if he or she is blind, or has a visual disability that is a barrier to employment and requires services to prepare for, find, keep or return to work. There must be a chance the person can benefit by going to work.

Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Instructional services for people who are blind


  • Rehabilitation teaching
  • Orientation and mobility
  • Adult Blind Living Evaluation (ABLE)
  • Older Blind Independent Living
  • Business Enterprise Program
  • Oklahoma Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

Disability Determination

Disability Determination

Who we serve

Disability Determination Services makes medical eligibility determination on applications for Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income.

DDS personnel understand that each Social Security claim is a person needing benefits to live.

Timeliness and accuracy are crucial. This division routinely finds itself ranked at the top of the nation in accuracy and productivity for Social Security claims.

Disability Determination

Okla. City Cooperative Disability Investigation Unit

Cooperative Disability Investigations Unit is a joint effort among federal and state agencies to effectively pool resources to prevent fraud in Social Security Administration’s disability benefit programs and related federal and state programs. CDI obtains evidence sufficient to resolve questions of fraud and/or similar fault in SSA disability programs.

OSB and OSD: Who we serve

The Oklahoma School for the Blind and the Oklahoma School for the Deaf serve:

  • Oklahoma’s youth who need specialized education
  • Residential and day school education. Students from infancy through 12th grade
  • Statewide (residential live there Mon. through Thur.)
  • Student’s education and room and board are free of charge
  • We transport the students to selected sites around the state for family or guardians to meet and pick up
  • Fully accredited academic program

OK School for the Blind

OK School for the Blind

School Census

  • 100% Graduation Rate
  • 90 Total number of students enrolled (day and residential).
  • 77 Counties Served

  • 9 Students with Multiple Disabilities
  • 1 to 4 Teacher-to-Student Ratio
  • 1 to 4 Direct-Care-Specialist-to-Student Ratio

OK School for the Blind

  • Also known as Parkview School
  • A cartoon panther with its paws around the letters OSB Located in Muskogee, OK

Specialized instruction includes:

  • Braille
  • orientation and mobility
  • optimum use of low vision
  • adaptive equipment and technology
  • tactile graphic skills
  • outreach

OK School for the Blind

Outreach Program

An OSB male graduate in cap and gown leans over a table to talk with an older couple at the graduation celebration.

  • 5,212 Direct Services
  • 335 Services to Schools





All Data based on school year 2020-2021

OK School for the Deaf

OK School for the Deaf

School Census

  • 97 Total Students Attending All or Part of the Year
  • 77 Counties Served
    • 10 Students with Multiple Disabilities
    • 1 to 4 Teacher-to-Student Ratio
    • 1 to 4 Direct-Care-Specialist-to-Student Ratio
    • 3 Satellite preschool operations

    2020-2021 school year

    OK School for the Deaf

    The OSD logo, an O with an Indian feather

    • Located in Sulphur, OK
    • OSD educators communicate directly with students using sign language
    • Specialized courses designed to meet the students unique communications needs
    • Outreach
    • OSD also provides preschool programs for children who are Deaf at regional sites in Chickasha, Edmond and Sulphur

    OK School for the Deaf

    head shots of the individual seniors, senior class of 2020.

    Outreach Program

    • 11,720 Individuals served by American Sign Language family and community classes
    • provide evaluations to children from age 2 to 21 years old
    • in-service training programs
    • recommendations for adaptations and modifications to the child’s educational environment

    Thank you for your time

    Empower Oklahomans with Disabilities
    DRS logo
    800-845-8476
    www.okdrs.gov
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